Relying on Misinformation, U.S. Senate Calls on U.N. to Rescind Goldstone Report

The U.S. Senate on April 14 passed a resolution “calling on the United Nations to rescind the Goldstone report”, the popular name for the report of a U.N. fact-finding mission chaired by Richard Goldstone that was charged with investigating Israel’s full-scale military assault on the Gaza Strip in 2008-09, code-named “Operation Cast Lead”.

The report of the fact-finding mission concluded that there was evidence that both Israel and the Palestinian authority in Gaza, Hamas, committed war crimes during the course of the assault.

Israel targets a school with white phosphorous munitions during 'Operation Cast Lead'
Israel targets a school with white phosphorous munitions during 'Operation Cast Lead'

S.RES.138 states that “Justice Richard Goldstone publicly retracted the central claims of the report he authored in an op-ed in The Washington Post on April 2, 2011” and “also conceded that the number of civilian casualties was far smaller than the report alleged”.

On this basis, the resolution calls upon the U.N. to “rescind the report”, and “requests [U.N.] Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon to do all in his power to redress the damage to Israel’s reputation caused by the Goldstone report” and “urge member states to prevent any further United Nations action on the report’s findings”.

A similar resolution in the House of Representatives was introduced on April 15 and referred to the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

In his Washington Post op-ed, Goldstone wrote that a further U.N. report that “followed up on the recommendations of the Goldstone Report” had recognized Israeli investigations into its own conduct, the findings of which “indicated that civilians were not intentionally targeted as a matter of policy.”

The Senate resolution states that these remarks from Goldstone constitute a retraction of “the central claims” of the Goldstone Report.

The U.S. mainstream media has similarly characterized Goldstone’s op-ed. The New York Times, for instance, reported that Goldstone “retracted the panel’s key conclusions, especially that Israel had deliberately made civilians targets.”

But another of the four leading authors of the report of the U.N. fact-finding mission, Hina Jilani, pointed out to the Middle East Monitor that the findings of the follow-up committee did not alter or contradict the earlier report’s conclusions.

In response to Goldstone’s op-ed, U.N. Human Rights Council spokesman Cedric Sapey observed that an op-ed in a newspaper does not constitute an official retraction from the U.N., and for the report to be withdrawn, Goldstone would need to submit a formal request to do so—something he told the Associated Press he had no intention of doing.

Also on April 14, the same day the Senate resolution was passed, the three other principle authors of the so-called “Goldstone report”, Hina Jilani, Christine Chinkin, and Desmond Travers, issued a statement saying that “some articles and comments appearing in the press” had “misrepresented facts in an attempt to delegitimize the findings of this report and to cast doubts on its credibility”, making it ” “necessary to dispel any impression that subsequent developments have rendered any part of the mission’s report unsubstantiated, erroneous or innacurate.”

The joint statement said that the report of the fact-finding mission “contains the conclusions made after diligent, independent and objective consideration of the information related to the events within our mandate, and careful assessment of its reliability and credibility. We firmly stand by these conclusions.”

Following upon the recommendations of the Goldstone report, a committee of independent experts was appointed “to monitor the independence, effectiveness and genuineness of any domestic proceedings carried out to investigate crimes and violations of international law pointed out in the mission’s report.”

Yet, the statement continues, claims that the follow-up report “somehow contradicts the fact-finding mission’s report or invalidates it … are completely misplaced, and a clear distortion of their findings.”

The actual findings of the report of the committee of independent experts stands in stark contrast to what is being portrayed in the media as contradicting the findings of the Goldstone report.

It notes, for example, that Israel has “conducted some 400 command investigations in relation to Operation Cast Lead”, only 52 of which resulted in opening of criminal investigations, only three of which have been submitted to prosecution, two of which resulted in convictions while the third trial is ongoing.

In once case where Israeli soldiers had shot and killed two boys and wounded a third, Israel found that its soldiers had “acted lawfully in light of a perceived threat” despite discrepancies in their testimonies.

In another case where civilians had been ordered to a location that was then bombed by Israel and then ambulances prevented from entering the area to help the victims, Israel’s self-investigation “did not conclude that there had been anything out of the ordinary in the strike” on a civilian home.

The committee had no information from Israel on any investigations into a number of other incidents cited in the Goldstone report, including attacks on hospitals.

The use of Palestinian civilians as human shields, the committee’s report points out, has been acknowledged by Israel, which “demoted” two soldiers who also “received suspended sentences of three months each.”

The report comments upon this by saying that “it is hard to square the apparent finding that the soldiers ‘did not seek to degrade or humiliate the boy'” in the case where a conviction occurred “with evidence that they intended to put him directly in harm’s way at grave risk to his life.”

The only other conviction that has occurred in Israel for conduct during its assault on Gaza was “the case of a soldier who was sentenced to a prison term of seven and a half months for stealing a credit card”.

The report contrasts the two cases resulting in sentences by nothing that this “harsher penalty was imposed for acts that did not entail danger to the life or physical integrity of a civilian, much less to a nine year old child.”

Of “nineteen investigations” concluded by Israel “into the serious violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law” documented in the fact-finding mission report, Israel had exonerated itself in each case, “with findings that no violations were committed.”

The committee’s report “reiterates the conclusion of its previous report that there is no indication that Israel has opened investigations into the actions of those who designed, planned, ordered and oversaw Operation Cast Lead.”

“In other words,” Goldstone’s co-authors wrote in their statement, published in the London Guardian, “one of the most serious allegations about the conduct of Israel’s military operations remains completely unaddressed.”

“We consider that calls to reconsider or even retract the report, as well as attempts at misrepresenting its nature and purpose,” the statement reads, “disregard the right of victims, Palestinian and Israeli, to truth and justice.”

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Jeremy R. Hammond

Jeremy R. Hammond is an award-winning political analyst, editor and publisher of Foreign Policy Journal, and author. His new book is Obstacle to Peace: The US Role in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. Read the first chapter FREE at! 

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  • David Simantob

    Of course, as to those other “independent” investigators, the article ignores their built in bias before they were even added to the panel. Desmond Travers had made comments like the following before going on the panel: That in the days preceding Israel’s three-week offensive to halt rocket barrages fired from Gaza, Hamas fired only a couple of rockets — not the 125 rockets and 80 mortar shells that actually fell on Israel. Travers also had called Gaza “the only Gulag in the Western Hemisphere” and denounced the so-called undue influence by Britain’s “Jewish Lobby.” As for Christine Chinkin, she went on the Goldstone panel having already accused Israel of “war crimes”. So now that Goldstone has changed his mind, we are left with the accusations of prejudiced members who had made up their minds before even begining their so-called investigations.

    • David, Israel’s three-week massacre in Gaza was not intended “to halt rocket barrages”, and in fact provoked an escalation of rocket fire. I would remind you that Hamas had strictly observed the cease-fire, and that it was in fact Israel that ended the cease-fire with repeated violations, including an airstrike and invasion of Gaza on November 4 that killed several Palestinians. The purpose of Operation Cast Lead was to punish the civilian population. The fact-finding mission report’s conclusions are well substantiated, and Israel’s war crimes well documented.

      • David Simantob

        Only in the self delusional world of Jihadi sympathizers would the fact that Hamas fired 125 rocket attacks and 90 mortal shells on a Jewish city be considered obeserving a cease fire. What would the US do if it was fired upon 1000s of times over many years from Mexico under the pretext that Texas and California are occupied territories? Jewish blood is not cheap, if Hamas wants to implement its stated goal in its charter of destryoing the Jewish state, the Jewish state will defend itself.

        • David, it is an entirely uncontroversial fact that Israel, not Hamas, violated the cease-fire. Hamas strictly observed the cease-fire until November 4, when Israel bombed and invaded Gaza, killing several Palestinians. The purpose of Israel’s violations of the cease-fire were to provoke a response in the form of rocket fire from militants, in order to serve as a pretext for the planned full-scale military assault on Gaza designed to punish the civilian population.

    • Normajean

      In the ’70’s, Israel cultivated the politically divisive potential of Hamas as a means to split the PLO, the secular nationalist movement that had opposed the oppressive presence of the Zionist invaders. Israel brought Hamas about in a sense, the same way the US created Al Qaeda and the Taliban to counter Russia and further US interests. But Hamas has evolved into a political party legitimized by popular vote, and the ensuing disrespect of Hamas by Israel and the US reveals these nations’ hypocritical stance toward democratic elections. Hamas observed a cease-fire with Israel even as it was placed under siege, and exposed by targeted assassinations via the IDF. The Israeli military and the Mossad in particular have for decades sustained a chameleon-like terror potential to create havoc gleefully, and I would not be surprised if the horrific Fogel case were tainted by the hateful and malicious energy of a Mossad provocation, nor the murder of ISM activist Vittorio Arellano The sad fate of Jeffrey Klinghofer was revealed as such, so why not some of the flaccid and impotent rockets claimed to have been fired over the border? There are abundant opportunities for disguised Israelis to stand, armed as usual, and to fire rockets into the south of their own land at the poor Sephardim and southerners whom they value less as citizens, and to expose them to risk even as they inflate the casus belli for their atrocities, planned well in advance! Ariel Sharon evacuated the Jewish settlements of Gaza, making massacre much more accessible. It is shameful, and pressuring Goldstone to recant, and changing the words will not change the truth. If all the witnesses were blinded, killed, or rendered mute, the actions themselves still speak volumes, and these crimes are as abhorrent and indefensible as the moment they took place, even if the killers themselves might escape prosecution, their violent deeds have polluted the course of history, and the human race is blighted with their acts.

  • David Simantob

    Here is a short discussion of Travers’ “integrity” in the Jerusalem Post:

    “The “integrity” of Christine Chinkin, a law professor at the London School of Economics, was not difficult to discern. On January 11, 2009 in the midst of the Gaza war, Chinkin signed a letter to The Times newspaper which stated: “Israel’s bombardment of Gaza is not self-defense – it’s a war crime.”

    Allegedly, the purpose of the Goldstone mission was to investigate whether war crimes had been committed. No democratic state governed by the rule of law would ever have appointed Christine Chinkin to a Gaza war crimes inquiry after she signed that letter. No lawyer being considered for a position on such an inquiry, with the slightest concern about integrity, would ever have taken the job. But then Chinkin’s lack of integrity is precisely why she was selected.

    The Times letter she signed also stated: “The rocket attacks on Israel by Hamas deplorable as they are, do not, in terms of scale and effect amount to an armed attack entitling Israel to rely on self-defense…Israel’s actions amount to aggression, not self-defense.”

    • Chinkin was right — Israel’s assault on Gaza was not self-defense, and it was a war crime.

      • David Simantob

        You miss the point, but perhaps on purpose. Would you have a trial where the judge and the jury declare a pary’s guilt before the start of the trial? Any conclusion reached by the “Investigation” of these three self described anti-Israeli pro-Hamas individuals is invalid because they had reached their conclusion before they even started their investigation.

        • No, that Israel committed grave war crimes is PRECISELY the point. And that Israel was guilty of war crimes was perfectly evident and well-documented at the time.

  • David Simantob

    TRAVERS and Jilani were similarly selected only because they had declared Israel guilty before they began their “fact-finding mission.” On March 16, 2009 both Travers and Jilani (and Goldstone) signed an open letter addressed to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Security Council Ambassadors calling for the very inquiry to which they were then appointed. The letter demanded the mission on the grounds that they were “shocked” by actions in Gaza, that “gross violations of the laws of war,” “gross violations of international humanitarian law,” “targeting of civilians,” and “crimes perpetuated against civilians” had been committed, and that the criminals “responsible…should be held to account.”

    • You are engaging in ad hominem argumentation. Try dealing with the facts contained in the report — and documented by numerous human rights organizations and the media in general — that substantiate its conclusions.

  • David Simantob

    Jilani’s pro-Arab bias cuts a broad swath. She had also been a member of the UN’s notorious 2005 International Fact-Finding Commission on Darfur, Sudan. That commission maintained that the atrocities in Darfur did not constitute an ethnic or racially-driven conflict, even though it was perpetrated by Arab militias against non-Arab African tribal victims. Hundreds of thousands raped and murdered, 2.5 million displaced. But no genocide according to Jilani and company.

    • Ad hominem argumentation. Address the facts. Address Israel’s well-documented war crimes.

      • David Simantob

        When the Judge and the Jury are corrupt and pre-judge the supposed guilt of the Jews, their conclusions are invalid. Would you have a trial where the judge and the jury declare a pary’s guilt before the start of the trial? Any conclusion reached by the “Investigation” of these three self described anti-Israeli pro-Hamas individuals is invalid because they had reached their conclusion before they even started their investigation.

        • The U.N. commission was not a court of law.

          All of the fact-finding mission’s conclusions follow from the facts they learned during the course of the investigations. None of them were predetermined.

          • David Simantob

            All their comments clearly indicate that they were predetermined. UN Commissions — whether the joke of a human rights commission or their racist Durban commissions — are universally viewed as jokes. Having a biased group of people, who stated Israel had committed war crimes before any investigation was done, simply confirms that the commission was a joke.

          • You clearly haven’t actually read the Goldstone report. I suggest you do so in order to be able to comment intelligently on it.

  • Mr Hammond, thank you for updating us about the American political scene and the U.S. Senate’s role in trying to whitewash and cover-up the war crimes in Gaza of the Zionist State of Israel. Those who know how much power Zionists wield in the United States are fully aware that the Senate operates as a mouthpiece and functionary of Israel and its militaristic agenda. Those who dare to tell how Israel carries out its war, war crimes and false propaganda against the occupied Palestinian people are targeted by the manipulators of the main stream media. This has been the usual practice so far and it seems there will be no end to it in the foreseeable future either.

  • Tom Baxter

    When will the Palestinians realize they have the rights as any persons that occupy colonized land not appointed to rule. When the colonial powers granted a group of Zionists the right to rule Palestine, the Zionists had the same rights as the Brits had there. That is no rights that the rulers did not deign to grant them.

    • David Simantob

      Who gave ther right to the Hashemites to rule Jordan, since they are family that was kicked out of Arabia by the Saudis? If the Arabs have a right to rule “Palestine” because they conquered it by the sword 1300 years ago from Jews and Christians, why can’ t Jews conquer it back? Either the latest conqueror owns the land or the original owner, either way it is the Jews. Just because a bunch of anti-Jewish jihadi lovers cannot stand the Dhimis are fighting back and re-asserting their right to live in the ancestral homeland, tough!!!

      • David, the fact that you reject that the indigenous inhabitants of the land have no rights in it, but accept that European Jews who have never set foot in that land before do, reveals the great depth of your racist prejudice.

        • David Simantob

          European? Actually, liek the majority of Jews in Israel, my family has never lived in Europe. I am a nice Persian Jew who along with over 1,000,000 other Jews was kicked out of Muslim countries after 1300 years of discrimination and living as dhimis among Muslims. We now have our own state, the state that the Christians and Muslims tried to exile us from. We are back and occupying Arab hordes who forcibly occupied our land with the sword of Islam, and the subjected us to the Jazziah and the disriminatory laws of Islam, cannot force us out again.

          • Yes, European. As you well know, most Jews who immigrated to Palestine were from Europe.

  • David Simantob,
    You may like a book called “The Invention of the Jewish People”, by Shlomo Sand. Sand is an Israeli historian in Tel Aviv. Very educational.

    Well documented book with references and resources that can be verified and checked.

    He goes into depth of the long history of this area.

    there is no way that the Jews that have populated Israel over these last several decades have blood ties to this land (except for those Jews with geneology that goes back thousands of years….the darker ones). The educational system in Israel has twisted facts to fit a fictional narrative that is quite imaginary. It has created a couple generations of people that are fixated on a supposed unbroken history of 2000 years, that implies that they were exiled from their lands and roamed the earth only to reunite in Israel once again. There is no proof of this.

    Contrary to what Israeli Jews think, proselytes flourished throughout the wider middle east, Africa, and greater Roman Empire. It was quite expansive.

    So what happened to the original Israelites? Nothing really. They remained in these lands and over time they have blended with the other tribes of the area for the most part.

    Another fantasy is that the Arabs came and killed off the Jews and Christians or they were sent to exile. Not so. Most of the population converted to Islam, some did so to avoid the taxes, but Christians and Jews remained and lived side by side with their muslim kin.

    it would and should be an embarrassment to every Israeli to realize that most the world knows they are just religious Jews, and not a specific RACE. Most in Israel are Europeans.

    • David Simantob

      why do you think that a bunch bedouin arabs travellign around all over the Ottoman empire have blood ties to the land? Can you point to any time that the area was an independent state other than a jewish state? Why should Jews lose their ties to their land when they were forcibly exiled but Muslims continue to claim ties to the land regardless of exile?

      • David, why do you reject the right to self-determination for the indigenous inhabitants of Palestine whose ancestors lived and worked the land for many centuries, while suggesting that European Jews who had never even set foot in the land somehow have a “right” to it? And why do you attempt to justify the ethnic cleansing of more than 700,000 Arab Palestinians from Palestine?

        • David Simantob

          Why do you assume that the Arabs who arrived in that area from Arabia and other parts are “indigenous” but the Jews who have lived there for thousands of years, the Jews who were forcibly exiled from there by Arabs, Muslims and Christians, are not indigenous. IF Arab exiles have the right to go back dispite not having born in Israel but simply because their parents or grand parents were born there, why can’t Jews go back to their homeland from exile in Iraq, Egypt, Libya, Iran, Yemen and other Muslim lands where the Jews were treated like dogs for the past 1300 years?

          • RICHARD COL

            As I can tell, according to the old testament, The people of israel, after leaving Egypt, lost their right to the “promised land” because of disobedience and distrust in God. The Israelis were then to be dispersed to all corners of the earth like the sands in the ocean. Correct me if I’m wrong. If that is not true, how do you justify not having your own land for thousands of years and when you get into Palestine there is no peace? Jews committed the same wrongs as other in demanding when fighting for a homeland. How does israel explain what they did to palestinians in ’48?
            I’d like to know that, if you may explain.

          • Your observation of what the Bible actually says is correct.


          • There was a small population of indigenous Jews, the Jewish Palestinians. As you well know, however, most Jews who immigrated to Palestine were from Europe, and had never set foot in Palestine before. You can spare us your repeated feigned ignorance.

  • I’m willing to suspend my disbelief to enjoy a very good display


    Mr. Hammond:
    Here again is the tail wagging the dog. Israel wants to be another US state when convenient, totally autonomous other times and the US Senate is getting into the mix. It is not our place, inasmuch as we have many Jews in our legislature, to demand that the UN revert or do away with a report just because Israel doesn’t like it. Israel has to account for a lot of war crimes against the people it wants to do away with including recent legislature to aggravate the issue even further such as the Avigdor Lieberman law to force acceptance of Israel by Palestinians passed on March 28 and the, most offensive, “memory of ’48” bill. This coming from a people who, everywhere in the world, want a memorial erected to the memory of it’s people and their misfortunes. Israel can’t have it both ways and should not represent itself as a democracy. It is not.